Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Fellow Republican Finally Calls Out Sarah Palin.

I don't care too much for MSNBC's Joe Scarborough, or his show Morning Joe, which is so lazy and disorganized it basically amounts to a bunch of random white people sitting around a table drinking coffee and poppin' random sh*t. Scarborough, an ex-congressman who resigned after a staffer was found dead in his office, is the consummate cable news tough guy who seldom presents an original train of thought when discussing political issues. However, I'm going to give this guy major props for finally being the first person to call out the Miss Sarah for the sham of a Presidential run she's gearing up for, as well as the GOP establishment's hesitance to call a spade a spade.
Former Republican Congressman and current MSNBC host Joe Scarborough is out with a vicious new post encouraging Republicans to "man up" and take Sarah Palin down a peg. As if trying to get the ball rolling, he precedes this suggestion with a few choice volleys of his own.

"Republicans have a problem," Scarborough writes at Politico. "The most-talked-about figure in the GOP is a reality show star who cannot be elected."

Scarborough's main beef with Palin seems to be that, in his view, she just is not serious enough to be considered a viable GOP candidate for president in 2012, and despite the supposed general acceptance of this as fact, Republicans sit idly, afraid to speak out, while Palin basks in the pre-campaign limelight.

To make matters worse, Scarborough prods, Palin does all of this while demeaning the legacies of GOP standard-bearers that many hold dear, people such as former presidents Reagan, whom she casually downplayed as "an actor," as well as George H.W. and Barbara Bush, whom she deemed "blue bloods."
The must-read Politco op-ed is a bit rambling and curiously paints the angle of Palin marginalizing Ronald Reagan to advance her political aspirations. I can't say I've really heard that from her, and I think Scarborough's attempt to make George HW Bush and Reagan saints to contrast them with Palin's total and complete lack of a resume is a little flimsy. Still, his zings against Palin and the Republican party that's too chickensh*t to criticize her make this piece clickworthy. As the first member of the Conservative media to actually stand up to her without apology or reservation, I'm pretty sure this story will be dominating the rounds in the rest of this week. So we might as well discuss it here.

I've said here repeatedly in the past that Palin would get hammered by fellow GOP'ers during primary season, but given her bulletproof nature and built-in army of Conservative bodyguards/apologists on Fox News and conservative talk radio, I'm not so sure that's the case anymore. I actually think fellow GOP candidates would be afraid to attack/call her out for fear of retribution by the very media outlets they need to further their own political careers. Palin's ability to make herself a serial victim while lobbing grenades at others has been one of the oddest political developments I've personally ever witnessed.

Perhaps Scarborough's op-ed marks a change in the way others on the right treat Palin.

We shall see.

Question: Why does Sarah Palin get treated with kid gloves by Conservative media outlets? How long will it take for her ghostwriter to fire off a Facebook retort to Scarborough's op-ed? How long before Scarborough issues the obligatory "Sorry Miss Sarah" followup?

Dr. Laura's Revenge.

AverageBro.com on 8.18.10
Common sense dictates this is nothing but a Grand Hu$tle. If you listen closely, you'll hear Dr. Laura state that her contract is up at year's end. The show's ratings have skyrocketed since this incident. You connect the dots.
NY Times on 11.29.10
Sirius XM Radio announced on Monday that it had signed the radio host Laura Schlessinger to a daily show — just three months after her use of a racial epithet drew wide criticism and led her to quit her current contract.

Sirius XM said it had signed a multiyear agreement with Dr. Schlessinger, but declined to disclose any other terms of the deal.

Dr. Schlessinger’s new show, which begins on Jan. 3, will run live for three hours on weekdays, with repeats on the weekend. Since satellite radio has far less interruption than regular radio — which must incorporate advertising — each hour will feature 40 percent more talk than on her old show, a Sirius spokesman said.

One of the most popular figures in talk radio, Dr. Schlessinger has been on the air since the late 1970s and had a regular syndicated show since 1994, offering advice on work, family and relationships for a mostly female audience. According to Talkers magazine, she reaches about eight million listeners a week.

That audience will most likely decline when she moves to satellite radio, which is mostly supported by subscriptions; in September Sirius XM reported it had 19.9 million subscribers. But Michael Harrison, the publisher of Talkers, said that on satellite radio she could retain a big following and have an effect on the culture even if her numbers drop.
So, saying the word "nigger" 11 times on the public airwaves while lecturing a black woman about racial sensitivity is actually a career advancement tool.

What. A. Country.

Monday, November 29, 2010

AB.com Hot Topics - 11.29.10

Welcome back. I'm sure ya'll are still either hungover from the holidays, or flat broke from Black Friday. Either way, I just hope you weren't somewhere in this video. Cause this is just sad.

Wanna know why I don't go out on Black Friday? Two words: City College.

Anyways, the blog will be back to biz as usual tomorrow, but till then, here's a brief rundown.

Lame Duck Session - Congress is finally back in biz. Will they get anything done before the end of the year?

That Texans-Titans - Call me nuts, but two guys taking off helmets and barely connecting with wayward punches in a game between two also-rans is not gangster.

Obama Eye-Jammy - I found it funny how some "Conservatives" jumped on the Obama basketball bruise and implied that this was in some way the equal of Bush's fainting on the pretzel. Please. Folks catch errant elbows in pickup ball all the time. Passing out while eating a pretzel? Not gangster.

Donovan McNabb Should Be Benched - Thanks to the generosity of Vanilla Latte, I got to go to yesterday's Skins/Vikings game. It's hard watching Donovan McNabb go out like this, it's time for dude to hang em' up.

Question: What's on your mind today?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

I sincerely hope you aren't coming here expecting content today. I'm too busy watching football and feeding my face to blog, and you should be too.

If you absolutely need your fix, hit that "Random Post" button on the sidebar. Something will come up.

AB.com will return Monday. See ya' then.

- Jay

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

AB.com Guest Post: Should You Let Your Man Beat You (At Scrabble)?!?

[Editor's Note: Yes, this post's title is (unnecessarily) provocative and somewhat misleading. And no, AB.com does not condone violence against women, but we do condone stealing their posts when they're as conversation-worthy as this one from my homegirl OneChele of Black -N- Bougie. I liked this because I've sorta done a vice-versa post on a similar topic in the past. Show our guest some love you-know-where, as usual.]

The other night I attended a cocktail/dinner party at a girlfriend’s house. She had rounded a bunch of us up for this party simply to have us check out her new man. Le Sigh. It’s your man. If you’re happy with him. I’m happy for you. But she was really anxious for us to meet dude and give her our opinion. About ten of us, six women and four men were in attendance. With the exception of her new man, all of us have known each other for years. We don’t hang out a lot anymore but we’re a comfortable group around each other.

First thing with Her New Man (HNM) was that he was kinda pushy. She would start to answer something but he would cut her off and finish answering for her. She and I were off to the side having a private conversation when he walked over, “What are you talking about?” I said, “Hair products.” He looked at her and then at me and then said, “Oh, okay.” and walked away. I sent her a severe side-eye as he headed towards the other side of the room.

“Oh, he just likes to be interested in what I’m interested in, that’s all.” I held back my patented eye roll and the urge to ask, “Is that what they’re calling it now?” and left it alone.

Later in the evening after a dinner where HNM was determined to be the smartest, funniest, wittiest person at the table (he wasn’t); she pulled out some games. Spades was suggested but me and one of the other ladies there have routinely beat their behinds. HNM asked which game we rarely play and a few people said Scrabble. He said, “Okay, let’s play Scrabble. Who’s the best player here?” Everyone pointed to me. He pointed at me and two other people and said, “Let’s go.”

I declined to play. I could tell he was the type to be mad competitive and you know what? It’s not that serious. But then he started to smack talking, “If you don’t think you have the mental agility to keep up, okay then.” BougieLand, I rarely rise to bait and this time was no different. I just smiled and shrugged. But he just kept going in to the point that he made it actually awkward for everyone else if I didn’t play. Fine.

I sat down at the table with him and two other people and we got started. Is it my fault that I had first draw and just happened to pull a seven letter word out of the bag? No it is not. When you open a game with 85 points, it’s kinda all gravy from there. But this ninja actually put down “cat”. My six year old nephew does better than “cat” for goodness sake. So… I wasn’t supposed to add onto it and make “catechism”? I wasn’t supposed to point out that “justice” does NOT have a “G” in it?!

Apparently not. My girlfriend pulled me on the side and asked me to “please, please” not beat him in Scrabble. His mood and ability to deliver her cocoa correctly that evening depended on him winning this game. [Yes, I'm serious] When I continued to blink at her blankly she said, “I want him in a good mood and I need for everybody to get along. Haven’t you ever just let a man win? It’s a stroke for his ego which equals a stroke for me later. And really Chele, who cares who wins?” I had to think about this (and tweet it)… had I ever thrown a game for a man’s ego? Uh… no. As a matter of fact, hell to the no.

Maybe that’s why I date very self-confident almost arrogant men. I want no parts of a man who is so insecure that a Scrabble loss throws off his cocoa game. I mean, seriously?

But anyway, she was all pleading blinky eyes so I told her I’d try not to beat him down too badly. I was up by 112 points but I would try. I don’t really know how to throw a Scrabble game. I set up a triple word score for him and ninja put “coat” in there. She stroked his arm while cooing, “Baby you’re so smart.” She owns a million dollar real estate company and was cooing over “coat”? Jesus be some dignity.

I played the word “and” (doing the least!). Dude followed up by putting an “L” in front of it. She clapped. I gave up. I played “quixotic” and went up by 200. Ninja was salty and starting to snap at folks. When she stroked his hand, he pushed it away, “Baby. I got this.” Like the 10 tiles left in the bag and whatever he had in his hand was going to net him over 200 points? I mean the mood in there was tense. It was Scrabble, y’all!

I was over it. I pleaded a headache and forfeited the game. As I was gathering up my purse, he said, “You know I was coming back on you, right?” Chele took one for the team, “Yup, you got me.” As I fled into the street with two other friends, I allowed myself the eye roll I had been holding back. We all agreed that HNM had made a terrible impression on all of us. Someone else drew the short straw to let her know.

As I tweeted the experience, a few guys said she was just trying to be wife material. By acting like “coat” is a multisyllabic bit of word treasure? No. Thank. You.

Ladies, Gents… please tell me – what part of the game is this? Answer any, all or none of the questions below. The floor is yours.

Question: Why do women do this? Lose games so their men feel big and strong? Do men want us to do this? Am I seriously emasculating a dude if I beat him at Wii Golf? Can a Scrabble game make or break a relationship? I gotta downgrade my vocabulary to “Cat in the Hat” levels to get a husband? For real tho? Is it really No Country For Smart Girls? Do we truly have to dumb down to catch and keep a man?

More From OneChele [Black -N- Bougie]

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Quite Possibly The Greatest Hoe-Hop™ Video OF ALL TIME!!!

Yep, more triflin' a$$ed music videos. Sorry folks, it's just that kinda week. If you need a substantive analysis of current events and whatnot, consult any of the AverageSiblings on the left sidebar. I'm already in vacation mode. cRap Music and Basketball, baby. You know, Real Amurrican Sh*t.

Anyways, I don't know how I managed to miss this one, but "Where The Cash At?" continues the "P*ssy For Money" trend. Or Hoe-Hop™ as I like to call it, a term I happen to like better and should probably trademark. BTW, when's someone making a mixtape of all this nonsense? That would fly off the Megaupload shelves, pronto.

Say what you want, but I sorta like the beat here. And these chicks look a lot less "infected" than "The First Ladies". I'mma roll with this one, but I couldn't help but point out the obvious problems:

0:01 - Why is she driving with her (obviously fake) designer purse under her arm?

0:19 - How come the music cuts off when they jump to street scenes, but is still playing when she gets out of the car? Who edited this mess, and can these ladies get their money, which they obviously need, back or is it too late?

0:47 - Why? Just. Why?

1:05 - A pile of crumpled $1 bills. Hmmm, wonder where they got those?

1:07 - We needs more money? What is we gon' do? Why, sell p*ssy, of course. Getting rid of the luxury car, downsizing to an apartment, asking for another shift at Strokers, or getting (another) roommate woulda been my first options, but hey, coochie is recession proof. Sell it!

1:20 - Ghetto Moulin Rouge? Really?

1:35 - Complete this sentence: "How much chlorine....."

1:40 - Lemme guess... the very same pile of crumpled singles, right?

1:43 - Just press the mute button from here on out. Nothing to hear (or see for that matter) after this point.

2:22 - How much did it cost to rent that 2004 Range Rover for a day?

2:16 - Someone please explain the Cream Of Wheat box. Is this a Detroit thang? Is breakfast food what's hot in the bedrooms streets right now? What's that all about?

2:20 - Ok, that explains it.

2:45 - I wonder who got fired for allowing this bullshiggedy in their Day Job pool after hours. Does the manager of the Southfield Motel 6 know this happened?

3:25 - Did these chicks all simultaneously discover the term "crown", or did their ghostwriter just fall in love with it first? Chicken. Egg.

4:17 - I can not. And I will not.

4:44 - She actually has the best flow of the trio, which is sorta like being the best Jewish player in the NFL, but hey, it counts for something I suppose.

5:11 - I assumed these chicks were actually being paid for services rendered, not actually stealing those crumpled singles once the dudes inevitably fell asleep from exhaustion and fatigue. If so, that's some lame sh*t. FAIL! FAIL! FAIL!

5:30 - Where the dignity at?

5:34 - The whole thing ends in a CGI explosion. How appropriate.

* Hat Tip to JD.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The NBA: It's Fan-Tastic.

You guys aren't working on anything other than stuffing recipes today, so lets blow some time watching pointless dunks, shall we?

Blake Griffin - As much as it pains me to say this, the Rookie Of The Year contest is really just about stats and highlight reels. While Wizards rookie John Wall is inexplicably on the pine with a mystery ailment, Clippers rookie Blake Griffin has been putting up monster stats for a 1-win squad. This slam clinic vs the Knicks (in another loss) this weekend is definitely gonna win him some votes, especially the poster-worthy number around the 30 second mark here. Jesus! Hurry up and get well, Wall.

JaVale McGee - Yeah, I'm partial to Wizards. No, this isn't McGee's best dunk, not by a mile, but it was pretty impressive in real time, especially the 2nd angle.

Rudy Gay - Make jokes about this guy's last name contract all you want, but reality is his numbers are through the roof, and he's hit more homecourt buzzer beaters this decade than anyone not named Bryant. Here, he continues Miami's nightmare of a season by drilling a fadeaway over King James.

The Day Black Folks Officially Reached Rock Bottom.

Just press the Play button, don't ask questions. You can spare yourself the earache trouble and cut this off around the 1 minute mark before the guy starts "rapping", since there's really nothing of relevance after that point. BTW, some of the imagery in this video might be slightly unsafe for work, so consider yourself forewarned. The last thing I wanna do is contribute to the black unemployment rate in this economy.

In case you're wondering, no, this isn't one of those parody jawns like "Let Me Smang It", this is an actual song.

And Jesus Wept.

I don't know either of these two characters, so I'm gonna just pick on the black girl, as usual.[1] Seriously, sis, how long did these brothers hold you at gunpoint before you broke down and sang that atrocious hook? I'm sure your grandmother is just thrilled to hear such a ditty.

Seriously though, given the rates of HIV/AIDs, random STD's, and unwanted kids (yeah, I said it) in the black community, how ignorant and callous is it to make a song like this, even for gimmick/shock value? "Ray Jr" and "Erika Kayne" need they black a$$es whipped for even dreaming up this irresponsible concept. The really scary thing is that by slightly redoing the hook to make it more radio-friendly, I could easily see this song ending up on some station's rotation. Easily.

Wanna see something even scarier? These ingrates were allowed to perform (thankfully not this song!) at some Cleveland-area high school, apparently during school hours. No, really. Go look.

Where Is Michelle Obama?!?

Better yet, Where Are The Condoms?!?

On a brighter note, I can't imagine black pop culture dipping any lower than this. It's all uphill from here.

Question: Should this song just be disregarded as a gimmicky joke, or is this sort of sentiment in this day and age just downright dangerous?

[1] Right, Lauren?

* Hat Tip To OhHellNawl

Friday, November 19, 2010

Would This Man Make You Stop Smoking?!?

I don't smoke.[1] Never have, never will. I could go into the myriad reasons why, but I'll just stick with the health angle. Namely, why actively participate in an activity that's medically proven to shorten your life?

Then again, I love Taco Bell, so I'm clearly not the health/morality police. The Federal government is, however, and in their latest ploy to get folks to stop smoking tobacco (not the wacky type), they're pulling out all the stops and just getting gross. But here's a baby step solution to quit smoking by using nicotine-free products (like those designed by davincivaporizer.com) today.
After decades of reminding people about the dangers of cigarettes, offering nicotine gum or patches and making smokers huddle outside, the government is turning to gruesome pictures.

Federal health officials Wednesday unveiled plans to replace the warnings cigarette packs began carrying 25 years ago with new versions using images that could include emaciated cancer patients, diseased organs and corpses.

Public health authorities and anti-smoking activists hailed the move as a milestone in the battle against tobacco in the United States that began in 1964 when the surgeon general first declared cigarettes a public health threat. That battle made steady progress for decades, but has been stymied in recent years, with a stubborn one in five adults and teens still smoking.

Tobacco remains the leading cause of premature and preventable death in the country, causing 443,000 deaths each year and about one-third of all cancer deaths.

Armed with new powers approved by Congress last year, the Food and Drug Administration is proposing warnings that include one containing an image of a man smoking through a tracheotomy hole in his throat; another depicting a body with a large scar running down the chest; and another showing a man who appears to be suffering a heart attack. Others have images of a corpse in a coffin and one with a toe tag in a morgue, diseased lungs and mouths, and a mother blowing smoke into a baby's face.

The new warnings will cover half the front and back of each pack and 20 percent of each large ad.
You can see an extensive (and nasty) slideshow of all 33 proposed labels here. I should probably warn you in advance, that is some gruesome sh*t.

I'll make a not-so-bold prediction: this campaign will fall flat and won't have a tangible result on smoking rates. Why, because most people who smoke already know this and still choose to smoke. If years of those (tobacco company-funded) "Truth" PSAs, and making the price of a pack of cigarettes as much as $12 (in NYC) didn't do the job, what makes them think putting graphic labels will disgust people to the point of quitting? My guess is most smokers will either cover up the label, or become desensitised to the whole shock factor after awhile.

Basic human psychology says people enjoy doing things even when the risk is known. It's why some of us have unprotected sex, drink to the point of blacking out, and vote Republican. Eff' a risk, it's the American way.

Besides, why pick on smokers, when people also die from the long term effects of alcoholism at astonishing rates. Why not put a "drink wisely or you could wake up next to this broke & busted chick tomorrow morning" label on Budweiser? Slap a "you know your fat a$$ don't need to be eatin' this" label on Big Macs? How about a picture of an empty bank account on condom boxes to encourage use? I'm just sayin'.

I suppose I applaud the FDA for taking some (token) action to curb a massive, preventable health epidemic, but like many gubb'ment initiatives, I predict this is going to simply be costly and ineffective when all's said and done.

You just can't legislate good decision-making.

Question: Do you smoke? If so, would these labels make you think twice about your habit? Will this campaign work? Is it unfair to single out smokers when there are lots of other products that also people?

[1] Anything. Just felt the need to clarify. My mama reads this blog.

AB.Guest Post - God Doesn’t Need Your Money, But The Church Does.

[Editor's Note: To tithe, or not to tithe. That is the question. The Uppity Negro has his answer. Give yours you-know-where.]

Okay, I know I’m not going to be popular for this, because this is going to come off as as a bit preachy and Sunday School lesson-y, but oh well, I think it’s a much needed topic that we need to discuss.

Most church people, black and white are familiar with the familiar passage of Malachi 3:8-12 passage that says:
“Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”
And that’s fine.

I don’t have a problem with people who memorize Bible passages. I just have a problem when people misread and fail to take context into consideration. If one decides to turn back one page to Malachi 2:1 it plainly reads “And now, you priests, this warning is for you.” A continual reading from 2:17 to 3:1 would show to anyone that the intended audience of the priests doesn’t change.

So, for me, I have problems with how this scripture is used in the pulpit.

Many of us have been at smaller churches where deacons and trustees actually count the money on the altar if they’re trying to reach a goal. Or even at larger churches, even the megachurches where they have $100 lines, $50 lines and $20 lines. This is problematic for me because it begins to mix the ideas of tithes versus that of offerings. It’s been my observation that in many of the neo-Pentecostal churches, big and small, that preachers and liturgists ask for a “seed offering” which I think borders heavy on being irresponsible as clergy.

Now, not only do parishioners and general church goers have this idea that they’ll be “cursed with a curse” running around in their heads, they have this guilt attached to them that if they don’t give some money that they’re not believing in God in this ministry. Honestly, I used to attend a COGIC church on Sunday evenings in Atlanta and every Sunday night I’d see one of the trustees/deacons get up and quote Malachi 3:8 and expound that if we didn’t tithe, our house was cursed, our car was cursed and that we were indeed cursed.

My car couldn’t have been cursed, because it cranked up when I got in after church.

I think this practice of guilting people to pay leads to unfair and stereotypical images of preachers. For every Creflo Dollar image we see of him running through money on his altar, there is some small church that needs every dollar than can get just to pay their musicians. That for every “Prophet” Todd Hall who gets up in church and tells the people to give a dollar for every pound of weight they want to drop, there’s a smaller church that just had their phone cut off for lack of payment.

On a basic notion, persons need to view their church as a membership organization. Much like fraternal organizations and sororities, or other professional organizations (think NABJ or NABA) that we pay membership fees towards without question, but we have reservations when we have that moment in church when the collection plate comes around. Fact of the matter is that smaller churches have smaller budgets and larger churches have larger budgets: I need for you to drop more than $1 in the collection plate on Sunday morning. If you want to reap the full benefits of all of the ministries, and services your megachurch provides, I need for you to drop something in the collection plate the first time around.

For those who still need a biblical precept about giving, I reference you to 2 Corinthians 9:6-15 that Paul is encouraging the church at Corinth to not give under compulsion, to give cheerfully and more importantly to have a gift in mind and give it. This goes directly against the weapon that many clergy use when it comes to the Malachi passage. I think this New Testament idea of offerings in the ecclesiastical setting is much more practical. However, truth be told, pastors that intentionally get this wrong get it wrong so they can keep their salaries in check.

Let’s be honest, some of these megachurch pastors aren’t even trying to live modestly. It’s one thing to be raking in this obscene amount of money and still have a three or four bedroom house and drive a midsized Lexus or Mercedes, but it’s another thing to fly around in your jets and purchase million dollar mansions—and you have parishioners who are taking public transportation to get to your church on Sunday morning. But to be fair, those clergy are few in number. I think folk both a part of church culture and outside of it tend to see the images of clergy who are on TBN or the Word Network and use a broad brush to paint all clergy in that same light. For these people, the pastors that don’t have all of the flash are the exceptions and not the rule.

Personally, I think it’s the other way around.

With national figures across the board of churches in the United States has the average church congregation around 150-200 members, that’s certainly not a large church. And we all know that numbers on the roll are not the numbers you see in the pews and chairs on Sunday morning.

Now coming out of a megachurch setting, my mother did say that she does not give money when they pass the plate around again to give a love offering to the guest preacher. For me, I don’t either. I know that at these megachurches it depends on how the deal is set up. At my church, given the way we did it, it was a set fee that was given to the guest preacher and anything in the love offering was extra. Probably, some of our guest preachers with the bigger names were probably walking away with close to $10,000. (Makes you rethink your occupation right?)

But, at some churches, the deal is that the guest preacher raises their own offering.

Here’s how that works: I went to hear Jamal-Harrison Bryant preach at a church in Atlanta, and he closed on the passage where God told Gideon in Judges 7 to only go to war with 300 people. So, when he was done, he was asking for 10 people to sew a seed of $300. So, we watched ten folk walk up there. Then he asked for 30 folk to give $100. And he went down to $30 from there. Whatever the case was, we watched Jamal collect close to $10,000 himself that night.

Another issue is pastors’ and their salaries. At smaller churches it’s much more cut and dried and the pastors know it. At larger churches, some pastors have circumvented that and the IRS, by operating off of the “love offerings.” God knows how much some of these pastors are really getting. Don’t get me wrong, pastors and their families need to put food on the table as well, and provide a roof over the head of their families, but, on some levels I think clergy MUST be more responsible.

As with all things generally, if you sit idly by and do nothing about a perceived problem, I personally believe you have tacitly become complicit enough in the said problem. To persons that don’t give money because they flatly say “it’s all going to the preacher’s pocket” I have to ask them how often do they go to annual or quarterly church meetings? Are they members of the trustee board or finance committees? And above all, are they reaping the benefits of the services that the church provides? For me it’s not just about giving money as a sign of believing the ministry of the church, but practically speaking that as a member of an organizational community (of faith) you need to contribute. No more than one expects to withdraw money from a bank account that you deposited nothing in, we shouldn’t expect to do the same with churches.

At the end of the day, we see what we want to see. We make things fit into our own box anyway. If you see the black preacher as pimp and charlatan, I’m sure this blog didn’t help you. Similarly if you see the black preacher as worthy of all the largesse possible, then maybe this blog didn’t help you either. I just hope that one day we’ll begin to learn better from out mistakes in the past as we march into the future.

Question: What do you think about "love offerings"? Does the preacher deserve something above and beyond his salary?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Strange Culture Of High Yella Hatred.

[Unnecessary, But Probably Necessary Disclaimer: I am your textbook definition of "brownskinned", as is my wife. There's no hidden color-related self-hatred here, so please, please, please spare the comments questioning my personal issues and hangups. There are none. And I realize I'm trying to make a point that might not be very easy to put in words. If you're lost at what I'm trying to convey here, ask for clarity rather than jumping to conclusions based on sweeping generalizations.]

I, for better or for worse, love reading gossip blogs. If this causes irreparable damage to my "intelligent brother" image, then so be it. But what better way to forget your troubles than to mock someone else's? Sites like MediaTakeOut, Sandra Rose, and Crunk & Disorderly are on my RSS reader. No need to act all high & mighty.

A common theme on these blogs, particularly MTO is shaming brothers who date white chicks, or biracial women as "out of touch", yet giving kudos to the (admittedly) rare example of a black man who dates a brownskinned black woman. It's almost comical in nature, but it's so predictable and common that it's almost a running joke on the site. The bloggers will show a picture of Celeb A and his dark/brown wife, and almost as if on cue, a symphony of "he keeps it real" comments will follow. And I'm wondering, if we can also agree that there's some issues in the black community with favoring people with lighter skin, does it make any sense to patronize darker skinned women in an effort to artificially balance an unbalanceable scale?

A post featuring Celeb B with a lightskinned woman will follow with a bunch of "yeah, she's pretty, but..." comments. The general consensus seems to be that a brownskined woman is somehow more "real", which automatically gives the man dating/married to her a "keepin' it real" stamp of approval. The guy dating the dark/brownskinned woman could be the foulest, cheatingest, physically abusivest dude on the planet, but dating a dark/brownskinned woman gives him a co-sign of high character, simply by virtue of whom he chose to date/impregnate.

If this still sounds like a foreign concept to you, peep this, this, or this, and get familiar.

Folks, could we please, please, please get beyond this sort of self-destructive colorism?

I'm sure the people who comment on these posts don't consider themselves as having color hangups, but how else should we interpret such a sentiment? It's almost as if they're saying "This guy's famous and rich and could have any lightskinned, longhaired chick he wanted, but he settled for this dark/brownskinned woman instead, so lets give him a cookie!". Doing so not only makes such a man seem incredibly shallow, it also inadvertently demeans the black woman by making her seem like she was chosen out of sympathy or some weird type of charity(ie: "He could have done better"), rather than because she's a desirable person worthy of being loved.

Sorry if this sounds convoluted, but it just really irks me. And lest you think this sentiment is sole province of brainless pro athletes and rappers, need I remind you that this "keepin' it real" nonsense was quite prevalent when Michelle Obama came on the scene. I recall one painfully terrible interview during which BET's Jeff Johnson asked then-candidate Obama "Why was it so important for you to marry a black woman?" , which was obviously code for "I pegged you for the Vanessa L. Williams type, not the Vanessa Williams type. Man, you could done better, why'd you settle?"

Perhaps the most desperate manifestation of this "Chocolate Love" theme I've seen showed up recently on the blog MadameNoir, in the form of a really strange post called Superstars & Their Chocolate Wives. In an attempt to show how there are still lots of "real" brothers who are successful, yet still love themselves some brownskinned women, the post presents a slideshow of couples beginning with the obvious (The Obamas) and proceeding on Denzel Washington and his mostly unknown spouse.

The desperation creeps in pretty quickly when Angela Bassett and her brownskinned husband are presented as a happy couple. Never mind that Courtney B. Vance is a man, which sorta undermined the whole "wife/uplifting brownskinned sistas" premise of the post, but there's also the small matter than the couple is now separated, which I guess sorta kills the "Love" angle. Other examples are Jennifer Hudson (the superstar) and her husband (the reality star), Samuel Jackson and the wife he's admittedly cheated on numerous times, Chris Rock and the lightskinned wife whom he cheated on and bore an extramarital child, Dwyane Wade and a brownskinned woman (Gabrielle Union) he left his brownskinned wife for, and Lebron James and the baby mother he's very publicly talked about not ever wanting to marry.

Excuse me, but if you can't even come up with a 1/2 dozen legitimate examples to back up your premise that there are actually some halfway decent successful black men who choose brownskinned wives, aren't you in some strange way illuminating the very issue you're trying to disprove? That post is just all kinds of random fail. Surely there had to be a better way to make this point. Namely, not trying to make it at all.

Call me nuts, but maybe we should just focus on black love period, regardless of whether or not the woman's skin tone advances some flawed notion of intraracial inequality. By continually pointing out how (supposedly) few "successful" black men marry women who look like their mothers, we're simply perpetuating some very pointless notions of who's "really" black and who isn't.

Question: Have you also observed this "extra realness props" for brothers who marry/date brownskinned women? Is this sort of thinking just as basackwards and self-destructive as black people who think "light is right"?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

AverageBro Tries Four Loko... And Lives To Regret It.

Anyday now, the overly intrusive Federal gubb'ment will likely outright ban the energy drank Four Loko.

In case you've been under a rock the past few weeks, the caffeinated beverage, which is about 12% alcohol/volume, has recently caused hospitalization of kids nationwide, which today lead the FDA to send a letter to the manufacturer of the drink (and related beverages) essentially forcing them to remove the caffeine, or else. Funny, but I assumed the alcohol was what was causing kids to black out. Anyways...
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday told makers of caffeinated alcoholic beverages that the caffeine in their products has been deemed an "unsafe food additive," and the drinks can no longer be sold in their current form.

In warning letters to the companies, the agency said the four firms risked further action, including seizure of their products.

The drinks -- marketed under such names as Four Loko, Joose, Lemon Lime Core Spiked, and Moonshot -- have become popular with young adults, and have left dozens of people sick or hospitalized. Several states have banned the drinks, which can have alcohol levels as high as 12 percent, according to federal officials.

FDA officials said the caffeine in the drinks can make it hard for consumers to gauge their level of intoxication. And peer-reviewed studies have suggested that consumption of the beverages can lead to "risky behaviors" and "life-threatening situations," the agency said.

The announcement comes amid a growing backlash against the so-called energy drinks -- sometimes called "blackout in a can" -- that blend caffeine and alcohol. Such beverages are becoming increasingly popular with college students and even children. The drinks are regularly consumed by 31 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds and 34 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates.

The maker of Four Loko said Tuesday that it would remove caffeine and other stimulants from its four different flavors of alcoholic drinks. Four Loko has up to 12 percent alcohol in a 23.5-ounce can, according to published reports. According to the CDC, caffeinated alcoholic beverages can have alcohol levels that range from 5 percent to 12 percent, compared to 4 percent to 5 percent for beer.
Naturally, Constitutional scholar that I am, I found this action to be a wee bit excessive. The "blackout" incidents have mostly involved under aged drinkers, not people supposedly of-age and thus more experienced with their limitations. Getting rid of a drink that under aged kids aren't even supposed to be in possession of in the first place reeks of government overreach. Taking Four Loko off shelves isn't gonna stop any 18-year old from simply getting his big brother/uncle/weedman to buy him Bud Light instead.

All that said, since the drink is gonna be gone in a few weeks, and I was bored and on the road, I figured I'd try a Four Loko before President Obama and his Merry Band Of Federal Bureaucrats decided I no longer could. I'm by no means a heavy, or even frequent drinker (nowadays), but I've got prior collegiate experience with potent stuff like Cisco, MD 20/20, about 50 varieties of malt liquor, and Richards' Wild Irish Rose. I know bad alcohol. I been had cheap likka. But just how does Four Loko stack up against The Legends Of Urban Gut-Rot?

I conducted an experiment of my own, for purely journalistic purposes, but mostly because I'm on the road this week and bored out of my mind. My observations are below:

Price/Availability - Surprisingly, the bodega Kangaroo convenience store out here in the lily-white burbs of NC had plenty varieties of Four Loko (and Joose) in stock, value priced at just $2.49 for a very tall 24 ounce can. Pimp Juice, Drank, and Crunk Energy Drink? Not so much.

We might need to call Rebb'n Al about that one. I'm just sayin'.

The Taste - I bought the purple can of Four Loko, which presumably meant "grape" flavored. To my surprise, a closer inspection of the label revealed the flavor was actually called "Loka UVA", which is a mixture of Guarana, Taurine, and Caffeine.

So, uh, I'mma just stick with "grape".

The taste, well, let's just say this is some nasty sh*t!!! I took one sip and briefly contemplated ending the whole experiment before it started. It basically tastes like malt liquor with a trace amount of artificial fruit flavor. Think Olde English 800 with a pack of Kool Aid mixed in for good measure. No, seriously, it was just that awful. Turrible. And I'm too old for this sh*t.

The second swig was slightly better, which likely means this is an acquired taste. Then again, cheap buzzes aren't supposed to taste great, so....

Buzz/Effect - No need to BS you, I abandoned ship on this experiment about 4 swallows in. Sorry, but I simply didn't have the stomach for something so terrible, and got more sick to my stomach than "buzzed". I have little doubt that if some clueless, peer pressured 17-year old guzzled one of these in a short period of time, it would likely give him a massive buzz, probably induce vomiting, and maybe even a blackout. But that kid would also have to have zero taste buds to get through this disgusting can of flavored urine. Not that I know how urine tastes, I have no point of reference. But I'm willing to bet it's similar to Four Loko.

The Final Verdict - Four Loko isn't a Grand Hu$tle, it pretty much works as advertised. Again, I prematurely ended this experiment because I simply couldn't tolerate the taste, but I think it's fair to say that Four Loko more than lives up to its reputation. "Experts" say one can packs the punch of about 6 beers and 2 cups of coffee, which explains why college and high school students are buying it like hotcakes. $2.50 for a cheap, quick, effective buzz. What 21-year old could deny that?

That said, I still say the FDA has no reason regulating this drink, and forcing the manufacturers to alter it. It's an alcoholic beverage clearly marked as such, and geared towards people of age. Taking it off shelves isn't going to solve the issue of under aged drinking, and reeks of baby/bathwater-ism. Viva La Loko!

Question: Have you tried Four Loko? Do you think the FDA needs to step in to regulate this beverage, or is this just another case of unnecessary government intervention?

AB.com Hot Topics - 11.17.10

Yeah, I know we're in the midst of a "theme week". Still gotta get some stuff off my chest.

Don't Touch My Junk, Dude - I'm sure you've all heard about this Jim Tyner guy who refused to let TSA frisk him, and is now spearheading a Tea Party effort to abolish the Transportation Security Administration. If not, get familiar.

Seriously, folks, is this what it's come to? One insecure dude gets nervous because he has to get frisked, and now we're gonna remedy the solution by eliminating and entire Federal agency? Really? Look, I travel for a living, and I don't particularly care for the rigors of going through airport security either. But the TSA is basically our last (only?) line of defense. Getting rid of them and turning security back over to the airlines themselves seems pretty darn silly.

Palin Officially Declares For 2012- Even I'll admit I didn't see this one coming. I figured Miss Sarah knew she could only hurt her earning power with a Presidential run, but obviously the admiration of the Tea Party has gone to her head. Now, she's basically throwing her hat in the ring for 2012, which if nothing else ensures I'll have plenty of blog fodder. Still, I fail to see how getting exposed on a national stage by fellow GOP candidates during primary season is going to help her. I would think that this could cheapen her appeal to those who support her (when she's revealed as clueless during debates), which would hurt future book sales, speaking fees, etc. This just makes no sense.

Tax Cut Compromise - Sorry, but if Obama caves in to pressure and extends the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, this guy officially loses me. This issue should have been decided well before the election and used as an "Us Vs Them" wedge issue if the Dems were smart. But I've got a bad feeling that Obama is going to give the GOP what it wants, extending these cuts indefinitely, all in the name of nonexistent bipartisanism. And if so, I'm wondering exactly what does this guy stand for?

Mike Vick's Redemption - Admit it, even if you're a Redskins fan (which I'm not) or a Peta supporter (ditto), you had to be happy to see Vick do his thing to the tune of an astounding 59 points in Monday night's win over the Skins. It's the consummate American story of a rise, fall, and redemption. He did something really bad, and he paid his debt to society. Maybe prison actually worked for him, silly as that sounds. As is, the guy is poised to take a team nobody expected to do jack squat to a division title, and maybe even has an outside shot at MVP. No matter who you are, you have to appreciate that.

Question: Should the TSA be abolished? What do you think of their new patdown procedures? Why is Palin taking this potential money-losing risk? Does Obama lose your support/respect if he caves in on this Bush tax cut issue? We you cheering for Vick?

AB.com Guest Post - Two Black Republicans Won House Seats! We're Finally Post-Racial! Hooray!

[Editor's Note: The GOP had a good mid-term election, with two black men elected to the House. One candidate who lost her bid to join them is nonetheless hailing this as a watershed moment in Negro History. My blogging brother from another mother, RiPPa, disagrees. Show our guest some love you-know-where.]

I'm not in a very good mood right now, folks. Well, put it this way, there's some stuff I'm hearing that has me pretty foul right about now; and it has to do with my beloved president. I hope it's just a rumor, but I'm hearing talk about the White House caving to the republicans, and choosing to extend the Bush Tax Cuts. Yeah, that combined with the talk of proposed cuts to Social Security, and an increase in gas tax has me a little ticked off right now.

But I don't want to to talk about that right now; no, not yet. However, I do want to throw something out there that I received in email a couple of days ago from my cousin AverageBro. It's an article written by that beautiful Nubian Goddess above, Star Parker. A woman who up until a little over a week ago, like me, didn't believe that here in Amuur'cuh, our society is post-racial. However, she firmly believes we are now, and here's why:
Will the NAACP be celebrating the arrival of two new black faces to the U.S. House of Representatives?

Don’t hold your breath. They certainly will not. These two new black congressmen are Republicans. There’s a powerful message here that should and must be digested.

We have arrived in post-racial America but establishment blacks – lodged in the political left – refuse to accept it and are doing all they can to get black citizens to refuse to accept it.

The sobering reality is that the black political establishment doesn’t want Dr. King’s dream. They don’t want an America where people are judged by the content of their character. They want an America that is Democrat and left wing and this is what they promote today under the banner of civil rights.

The campaign by the NAACP and leading black journalists – all liberals – to paint the Tea Party movement, the push back against government growth and intrusiveness over the last two years, as motivated by racism is shameful.

Shortly before the elections, the NAACP produced a tome called “Tea Party Nationalism,” alleging racist connections to the Tea Party movement.

The day before the elections, Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson wrote a column suggesting that the Tea Party movement was a well funded racist pushback against President Obama which started the day of his inauguration.

Tim Scott and Allen West, our new black Republican congressmen, are both aggressive and unapologetic voices for everything the Tea Party movement stands for.

They were just elected in districts that are overwhelmingly white. Both also defeated white Republican opponents in their primaries.

Scott’s district is Republican. But West’s is not.

Florida’s 22nd district that just elected West voted for Barack Obama in 2008, John Kerry in 2004, and Al Gore in 2000.

I guess these white Democrats and Independents didn’t get the racism memo.

The political tsunami, washing in a wave of new Republicans to Washington, was caused by a major shift in the vote of political independents, overwhelmingly white, and who largely voted for Barack Obama in 2008.

Who turned on the light after the presidential election that caused these white voters to discover that the man they voted for, to their horror according to the NAACP and Eugene Robinson, is black?

Follow the Gallup presidential approval poll over the last year and a half and you get a graphic picture of the changing political landscape that produced the electoral results we just witnessed.

In February 2009, Barack Obama’s approval rating, 65%, exceeded his disapproval, 21 percent, by 44 points.

By August 2009, 6 months after passage of the stimulus bill, the bailouts of banks and General Motors, and well into President Obama’s marketing campaign for his health care initiative, that gap shrunk to seven points – 50% approve, 43% disapprove.

In January 2010, voters of Massachusetts elected a Republican, Scott Brown, in a special election to replace long term Democrat legend Ted Kennedy. Brown campaigned against the health care bill, which Ted Kennedy had called "the cause of my life."

President Obama went to Massachusetts to campaign for Brown’s opponent Martha Coakley.

By the end of January, Obama’s approval margin was gone. 47% approve, 47% disapprove.

Obama refused to get the message and joined with Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi to use procedural gymnastics to pass a far reaching health care bill that the American people didn’t want.

End of story.

Tim Scott and Allen West won their races. But there were 14 blacks total running as Republicans in congressional races around the country, including me.

We hate racism because it denies that what is in a person's mind and heart has nothing to do with the color of their skin.

Almost everyone in America today, Thank God, appreciates this truth.

When will the left wing black establishment wake up to it?
Well, you probably won't agree with her because, well, she's a conservative. But, her having written the book White Ghetto: How Middle Class America Reflects Inner City Decay, I'd say she's pretty much an expert on all things racial. So with that said, maybe she's right; maybe we can now truly call ourselves post-racial now that two black republicans have been elected to the House of Representatives. So you mean I wasted tears on Obama's presidential victory in 2008?

After all, two black democrats being elected after running on the Tea Party ticket is a much bigger deal than say, a black man being elected president of the United States of America, no? Of course you may not see this as a significant benchmark in American racial history.

However, now that this has occurred, isn't it a good feeling to know that in 2012 people on the right are no longer gonna infuse racial politics into campaigns? Yep, no more Southern Strategy; gone! Yep, burn that Dashiki and throw away those Black Power Fist Afro-picks, folks; we's free now!

Feels so good to finally be more than 3/5ths human...

Thank you, Tea Party!

Question: Is Star Parker right? Should this huge accomplishment be trumpted more in the black community, or do we only care about the political achievements of Democrats?

More From RiPPa (The Intersection Of Madness & Reality)

Ashy Or Classy?!? - T-Pain's Toshiba Commercial.

I'm all for rappers and singers getting that endorsement money. Reality is, nobody sells records nowadays. You have to give away 20 songs (ie: mixtapes) for everyone 1 that you sell. With record companies insisting on those dreaded 360 deals, the pressure is on recording artists to capitalize on their notoriety any way they can.

All that said, I'm not so sure if I like this T-Pain Toshiba commercial.

Unlike his other forays into mainstream American culture (ie: "I'm On A Boat"), I just can't co-sign this coonery. Making a mockery/self-parody of autotune (ie: that beer commercial he had awhile back) is one thing. Talkin' reckless and ignorant about technology you know nothing about, all while spitting food on good well-meaning white folks is another altogether. Whereas it seemed like T-Pain was in on the joke before, it's almost as if he has no idea the joke's on him this time.

Sorry, this sh*t is Ashy as hell.

T-Pain, go sit down somewhere and read a d*mn book!

Question: Ashy or Classy? Is this commercial just good clean fun or borderline coonery?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

AB.com Guest Post - Are Black Boys Doing Even Worse In School?!?

[Editor's Note: My blogging sister The Black Snob goes in on the sad state of black boys in the classroom. Show our guest some love you-know-where.]

A new report was released Tuesday that made the education of black males sound even more dire than many already thought. A study commissioned by the Council of the Great City School says "Black males continue to perform lower than their peers throughout the country on almost every indicator."

The report calls the educational gap a "catastrophe" that needs intervention from the highest levels.

According to the report black males are:
■ "Twice as likely to live in a household where no parent had full-time or year-round employment in 2008," and in 2007, "one out of every three black children lived in poverty compared with one out of every 10 white children."

■ According to the National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP) in 2009, only 12 percent of black male fourth graders performed at or above proficient levels in reading. White males at the same grade level are at 38 percent proficiency.

■ Only 9 percent of black male eighth graders across the country perform at or above the proficient level in reading. For white males it is 33 percent nationwide.

■ The average African American fourth or eighth grade male "does no any better in reading or math on the NAEP than white males who are poor."

■ Black males are almost twice as likely to drop out of high school that white males, with 9 percent of black males dropping out of high school in 2008 compared to 5 percent of white males.

■ Black males score an average of 104 points lower than white males on the SAT in reading.

■ In general, only one-third of black students were likely to meet ACT college readiness benchmarks compared to white students.

■ Also Black students are less likely to participate in academic clubs, "more likely to be suspended from school, and more likely to be retained in grade than their white peers."

■ And in 2008, black males ages 18 and up only accounted for 5 percent of the college population, while black males make up 36 percent of the prison population.
Some of these statistics weren't particularly surprising to me. Others were, like the fact that if only 12 percent of black fourth grade boys are proficient in reading but ONLY 33 percent of white boys are too, that means the vast majority of American boys, white or black, can't read at their grade levels. Thirty-three percent should be scary to white people, although I doubt anyone will suggest that someone commission a national study about this.

And while I understood why the info about this report mainly compared boys to boys I really wanted to see the data on black and white girls for comparison. Black girls are coming out of those same neighborhoods and same households as black boys. The perception has been, for years, that academically black girls are out-performing black boys. At least if one is to use college enrollment as an indicator.

According to the American Council on Education, 63 percent of black college undergraduates are women. Again, these are the same black women growing up in poverty, coming from households where neither parent may hold down or job, or are likely being raised by a single parent. I once had a long talk with a male friend who was convinced that Title IX (gender parity in academics) was the reason fewer black men were enrolled in college, to which it took all my strength not to curse him out.

Like many, he focused on how Title IX has been used as an excuse to eliminate certain athletic programs, like Olympic sports, on college campuses. (I say excuse because if you have a solid football and/or basketball program those programs usually handily pay for all university sports programs, but often when it's time for budget cuts, NO ONE is EVER going to cut any money from football or basketball, so who is going to get the knife here?) He felt because many black schools had smaller sports programs or had even eliminated some sports, this was the reason fewer black men were attending. (Again, I don't think is the fault of Title IX, but an adverse affect of larger, wealthier white schools getting the best black student athletes, destroying once vibrant programs at historically black institutions.)

If Howard University is teeming with female students it is not the fault of Title IX or the female students. Most students aren't athletes. Most students are just that, students. Athletic programs don't have anything to do with the high school drop out rate, college preparedness, entrance exams and qualifying for enrollment. I don't get the impression that it's because of Title IX that Howard and other schools have so many female students, but female students are the main people applying to go there, the main one's qualifying and the main ones finishing.

Believe me, Howard and other black universities aren't lacking for male students because they're turning boys away. On the contrary, a lot of black schools would scream to the heavens if they sudden received an influx of qualified male applicants. And black males aren't refusing to go to an HCBU because the lacrosse team's budget got slashed. Black males aren't making it to college because something has gone terribly, terribly wrong.

I don't think it's just one thing, but a lot of little things that all add up to academic disaster. And if Charlie LeDuff's story about the city of Detroit and the children who live there taught me one thing, your son can do all the right things -- avoid trouble, stay in school, enroll in ROTC, be a good kid, considering the military or college after graduation -- and become a statistic due to a toxic environment that didn't just start being toxic a week ago, or a year ago, but has been that way for decades.

This is why boot-strap speeches always rang so hollow for me. Just because my parents made it out isn't some indicator that any and everyone could do it. A lot of factors were at play that helped them get out of poverty. A sorority sister who worked in the financial aid office. A teacher who took a special interest. Parents, who despite not having much, set the example as hard workers and had rules and expectations for their kids. Still, one false move and you're pregnant, or you're in jail, or you're homeless. And sometimes you don't even have to do anything wrong. Just live in the wrong neighborhood or have a relative who's an ex-convict or have a parent who's abusive or an addict. Have poor access to medical care, decent food, a decent house, be exposed to lead paint, move all the time, go to a terrible school that has been terrible for so long no one remembers what a good school looks like, live in an area where it takes 12 minutes or longer for the ambulance to show up, if it shows up at all. Live in a town where 70 percent of the murders go unsolved.

Instead of monkeys on your back, these kids have 800 lbs gorillas no one wants to acknowledge. At least my parents were just poor and went to inferior schools with old books. They didn't have to worry about getting shot or grow up during the crack epidemic.

But that still doesn't quite explain why black women from the same circumstances, at least academically, appear to do better, especially when black women deal with not just the poverty, violence and inferior schools, but racism and sexism. By no means are black women living in some kind of paradise. A vast majority of African Americans, male or female, are more likely to be poor at some point in their lives (last time I checked that stat was something horrifying like 9 out of 10). Black women are less likely to get married, not because they don't want to, but because many feel they can't find suitable husbands. Both black men and women struggle more with a variety of health issues, suffer in silence from mental illness, raise kids alone, are abused or the victims of violence, etc. etc.

But that still doesn't explain the academic gap. Anyone have any theories?

Question: Why are black boys doing so terribly in the classroom? What are you personally doing to ensure that your son/nephew doesn't become a harrowing statistic?

A Call for Change: The Social and Educational Factors Contributing to the Outcomes of Black Males in Urban Schools [PDF Doc]

Monday, November 15, 2010

72% Of Black Kids Are Born To Unwed Mothers. So What?!?

For some reason, there's been a recent explosion in stories regarding the fact that 72% of all kids were born to unwed mothers. This idea's been picked apart throughout the mainstream media, black radio, and the blogosphere. In case you're not up on the official stats, here they are.
Seventy-two percent of black babies are born to unmarried mothers today, according to government statistics. Statistics show just what that fullness means. Children of unmarried mothers of any race are more likely to perform poorly in school, go to prison, use drugs, be poor as adults, and have their own children out of wedlock.

The black community's 72 percent rate eclipses that of most other groups: 17 percent of Asians, 29 percent of whites, 53 percent of Hispanics and 66 percent of Native Americans were born to unwed mothers in 2008, the most recent year for which government figures are available. The rate for the overall U.S. population was 41 percent.
Honestly, I think this real-life ramifications of this 72% number are somewhat overplayed. Reality is, married or not, roughly half of black families have a father present. No, that isn't ideal, but it's sure better than the 20 some percent implied when you look at that number. It also doesn't account for the nearly 10% of all black families run by a single father.

Just because people aren't married when the child is born doesn't mean they never get married, nor that the institution of marriage is a cure to all problems. And of course, the 72% statistic is by no means indicative of how involved a father is in his child's life. We all know guys with baby mothers who handle their business just as good (or better) than married guys who are with their children everyday.

We tend to over romanticize the past in the black community, pointing to days when every child had a father, and everything was peaches & cream. Folks, those days are over and long gone for all Americans, not just blacks, and they aren't coming back. Times change. Let it go, already. Being born to a single parent doesn't doom a child to a life in the traaaap or on the pole. Being raised by a moron (or two) is likely a much better indicator of how (un)likely that child is to succeed, but of course that's much harder to quantify.

I'd be intellectually dishonest to tell you that unwed mothers aren't a problem in the black community, but so is blaming everything on a severly flawed statistic. Stats seldom, if ever, tell the full story.

Question: What do you think is the cause for the 72% illegitimacy rate in black America? What (if anything) can be done to lower this number? Are the effects of single parenthood overblown, or actually underestimated?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Serious Issues Week Begins Tomorrow.

We do a lot of clowin' here at AB.com. It's my way of adding sugar to the medicine so the speak. That said, every now and then I have to pause for the cause and put a cease to the coonin' for good. This would be such a time.

This week at AB.com, we'll get deep into some real issues, Serious Issues. Tune in each day for an in-depth discussion on various topics. Chime in and add your two cents. A couple of my favorite blogging friends will also drop by with their opinions.

Stay tuned, it's finna get real serious in this piece.

- Jay

Friday, November 12, 2010

5 People I Wish Would Just Go Away For A Long, Long, Time.

Some people are just annoying to the point that you wish you could somehow delete them from your life like a 30 Rock rerun on your DVR. No, I'm not talking about causing physical harm to these people, merely banishing them to a remote island and not allowing them to return until their grating tendencies have worn off.

These are 5 such people:

Sarah Palin - When will this joke-in-pumps finally run her natural course and just go far, far away for good? With her now shifting the Sarah 2012 campaign into full gear, it's fair to say the expiration date is at least a few years away. Is she interesting in a trainwreck sorta way? Sure. Did she both help and hurt the GOP in the midterms? Sure. But as we get closer to the time when her lack of intellect and gravitas finally gets a thorough national examination, I can't help but think she'll conveniently push the eject button ("I need to spend more time with Trigg!") and prolong this charade through Obama's second term. Can you say "four more years of Palinisms"? I sure as hell hope not.

The Entire Cast Of The Real Housewives Of Atlanta (except Kandi) - What can I say. Yes, I watch this show religiously, but that doesn't mean it's a good thing. Each week, this collection of surgically altered bourgeois wannabes and never has beens infects my television with their own special brand of prentense, fake sh*t, and general n*ggorance. By adding the despicable Phaedra to the already perpetual "frontin' is a habit" cast of NeNe and Kim, they're quickly pushing the "no likable characters" boundary from which few shows (even "reality" ones) can rebound. The comparatively classy Kandi, of course, is the exception, but she's also kinda boring so there's no way she makes it another season.

Drake - I admit it, I also liked So Far Gone and Comeback Season when they dropped, and was generally ok with Drake's music for awhile. But lately? Come on, this dude's either on some Keith Sweat begging tip, riding shotgun with Bun B issuing lyrical threats of physical beatdowns to foes (we don't believe you, Aubrey!), cleverly calling women all kinds of b*tches and h*es[1], or abusing the auto-tune to T-Pain levels of overindulgence. I for one will be happy when this moderately talented, highly annoying male apologist runs through his 16 minutes and goes back to Canada.

Gilbert Arenas - Yeah, I know. For a guy who was a founding member of the Agent Zero fanclub, it seems weird for me to want to banish (arguably) the team's best player. But seriously, this circus has to end at some point. Arenas recently revealed that he lied about faking an injury so a teammate could get extra run in a preseason game. Arenas actually says he faked the injury because he was scared of getting booed by the home crowd. So essentially, he lied about a lie about a lie. He's also about 20 pounds overweight and kills any offensive flow when he is actually playing. I don't like buyouts and nobody is going to trade for him, but maybe the team could issue him a "go sit down" until he's at least in playing shape. As-is, he's hurting a team that's already pretty bad without him.

George W. Bush - As if those ignorant "Miss Me Yet?" T-shirts and signs weren't enough, now El Busto is back on the scene hawking his obviously ghostwritten 500+ page Presidential memoirs. No, to my knowledge that 500 pages does not actually include mad libs or black and white outlines of the Oval Office for coloring. It does however include a startling revelation that being dissed by Kanye West post-Katrina was the low point of his presidency. Even I have no snarky rebuttal for something so stoopid. George, please take your dumb a$$ back to Crawford, or Dallas, or wherever you currently live and don't bother us until that Presidential library (and all four of its coloring books) is finished.

Question: Got anyone else you wanna see temporarily banished to a remote island?

[1] Seriously, Drake might be Mr. Nickeldeon, but his lyrics show he's got no love for h*es either. And Lil' Wayne needs his ass kicked for that "beautfil black woman, I bet that ***** look better red" line. But of course, all we care about is the beats.

Miami, We Have A Problem.

With last night's loss to the Celtics, King James and the Miami Heat are now hovering around the .500 mark. I doubt anyone expected the team to get off to such a slow start. Well, anyone but me that is.

It was hilarious watching prognosticators predict that this team could challenge that Jordan-era Bulls team's 72-10 record. Come on, these guys are all great players, but it takes time for a team to gel. Expecting a record-breaking performance in year one was just outlandish. So is expecting a title in year one, when these guys haven't even been through a playoff run together.

The playoffs are when guys earn their stripes. In case you didn't notice, Chris Bosh, nice stats and all, never made it past the first round in Toronto. We all know about Lebron's potential to nut up when the games actually matter. Wade's a proven leader, but how he and Lebron co-exist over the course of a 7 game series remains to be seen.

As-is, the team is fatally flawed with no interior defensive presence to speak of. I could probably score on Joel Anthony. Udonis Haslem is 6-7 playing the pivot. Chris Bosh is soft in more ways than one. That's not gonna cut it when you're lining up against the Lakers imposing front line. Not this year at least.

On the bright side, the team has 2 of the 3 best players in the league, and statistically the best power forward in the game (last year). With time they'll figure out who does what, Bosh will get more touches, the role players will get in their lanes (I'm talkin' to you Eddie House) and they'll win 50+ games just by feasting on the Nets, Pacers, and Wizards of the NBA. Their four losses have all come to pretty good teams. They'll figure it all out sooner or later. But expecting anything more than an Eastern Conference Finals appearance is just premature this season.

Give em' some time, folks.[1]

Question: Are the Heat overrated or have they just not hit their stride yet?

The pressure is starting to build in Miami [ESPN]

[1] And by "folks", I mean Pat Riley, who you know is just begging to come out of retirement and coach this team.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The AB.com Obama Approval Rating™ - November 2010.

Eff' a Frank Luntz. AB.com held the most accurate poll of support for President Obama since shortly after his election. The AB.com Obama Approval Rating™ is generally as good a gauge of how well the President is performing as you'll find, but sometimes the results surprise even me. This would be such a time.

After bottoming out at 62% in July, and subsequently losing control of the House, I naturally assumed the Good Ship Barry be sinkin'. Not only was I waaay off, but Obama rebounded to post his second best score ever, nearly reaching the high water mark of 81%, achieved just after he took office.

While I approved of Obama's performance, I really have no explanation for the jump, given the number of "L"s he's taken lately. Anyone care to explain?

Question: What's up with this latest poll?


This isn't even a post, I just wanted a placeholder marking this unique date. If you've got a child born, or God forbid, happen to be getting married today, rejoice. I don't think it's humanly possible to forget 11.11.1110.

Editor's Note: Uh, just make that 11.11. And before you ask, no, I haven't been sleeping well lately. I guess I could just put this post back in draft mode and save it for another year, or, I could tuck my head between my legs now and just hit the freakin' Publish Post button already.

Alvin Greene Is Running For President. No, Really, He Is. Maybe.

Just when you thought you'd heard the last of Everyone's Favorite Intellectually Challenged Senatorial Candidate Not Named "Angle", our boy Alvin Greene is back at it again. Instead of taking on Tea Party favorite Jim DeMint, Greene's upping the stakes this time and gunning for that number one spot.
Alvin Greene might run for president.

Greene, the unlikely Democratic Senate nominee in South Carolina who lost overwhelmingly to Republican Sen. Jim DeMint last week, called the state Democratic Party on Tuesday to ask how much it would cost to run for president.

“Maybe. I’ll have to see,” Greene told POLITICO when asked whether he was considering filing to run for president. He confirmed that he called the state party Tuesday to ask about the fee. The state party’s spokeswoman, Keiana Page, confirmed that someone called the party Tuesday asking about the presidential filing fee but said that the caller did not identify himself.

In 2008, South Carolina’s presidential filing fee for candidates was $2,500. Page said the state has yet to set its fee for the upcoming 2012 contest.
Comical as this might sound, Greene did somehow manage to collect nearly 30% of last week's vote. I don't know whether that's worthy of laughter or tears.

In a strange way, I feel sorta bad for Greene because wasn't able to fully cash in on his accidental fame to the same degree that folks like Joe The Plumber, Antoine Dodson, and of yeah, Sarah Palin have. His "action figure" idea never panned out, and he's not patrotic (Joe), attractive (Palin), or flamboyant (Dodson) enough to play the media circuit for his own personal gain.

In the end, all that's left is a sad, jobless black man with an undiagnosed intellectual disability. There's nothing reality show worthy about that. So yeah, prolonging your 14 minutes by running for President is probably the next logical step, pathetic as it might sound.

See you in 2012, Alvin.

Question: What should Alvin Greene do next?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Could Someone Please Tell Me What A "Real American" Is?!?

[Editor's Note: This is just a rant, not a fully fleshed out post of cohesive ideas with a logical conclusion and challenging assertion. Sorry, sometimes you just have to riff. This would be such a time.]

Could someone please tell me what a "Real American" is? I used to think I was one, but apparently I'm not.

Since the election of our first "African-American" President became even a remote possibility, we've seen a bunch of rabble rousing about exactly who's a "Real American" and who's, well... something other than a "Real American".

This started with the Clinton campaign, which tried to paint Obama as "exotic" by pointing out the fact that he briefly lived overseas (against his will) as a child, had parents of different races, and grew up in the 50th state. So, apparently anyone who spent formative years (against his/her will) out of the country (assuming you aren't a military brat, which is fine because, you know, the military is beyond reproach) isn't a "Real American". Nor is anyone biracial a "Real American". And if you just so happened to grow up in Hawaii, forget it, you aren't a "Real American" either.

"Real American"s also don't go to uppity private high schools or colleges, so if you went to an Ivy, forget it. I guess Occidental would also disqualify you from "Real American"-ship.

The Reverend Wright controversy basically implied you couldn't be a "Real American" if you just so happened to attend a church with or be related to some older black folks who occasionally said some crazy sh*t you didn't even agree with. You also weren't a "Real American" if you just so happened to work with someone like Bill Ayers who said some crazy sh*t that you also didn't agree with. "Real American"s only associate with other "Real American"s.

When the McCain/Palin campaign got in full gear, the Clinton "Real American" qualifications were already sorta used up, so they just skipped the bullsh*t and started implying that you weren't a "Real American" if you grew up in an urban area, or on either coast. "Real American"s don't live in New York City, Boston, Philly, San Fran, Chicago, LA, or DC. "Real American"s only live in small towns.

"Real American"s also don't work white collar jobs because professional jobs are bad, bad, bad. Nope, "Real American"s can only work blue collar jobs, because being a "Real American" requires you to get dirt under your fingernails.

"Real American"s also can't work on Wall Street, for a major corporation, at any financial institution, at a hospital, at any place of higher learning, or God forbid (shudder) on Capitol Hill. This violates all rules of "Real American"ism. "Real American"s only work at small businesses, and of course, in the military.

Once Obama won the whole election, the scope of "Real American"ism shifted to the micro level, singling out individual groups.

"Real American"s aren't members of a race, they're all members of the human race who don't see color, only character. So keep your Hispanic-, Asian-, African- prefixes. We're just "Americans". "Real American"s that is.

"Real American"s don't drive Hondas. Chevy, baby! Chevy!

"Real American"s aren't immigrants, unless of course they came properly through Ellis Island.

"Real American"s don't belong to unions.

"Real American"s don't listen to sissy music like jazz. "Real American"s love country music and country music only, because only "Real American"s make country music.

"Real American"s aren't Muslims. This is a Christian-only country. The Founding Fathers said so, even if the Founding Fathers actually said the complete, exact, polar opposite.

"Real American"s can't be liberals, since liberalism is completely in opposition to "Real American" values.

"Real American"s can't even really be Republicans, they should technically be "Conservatives", whatever the heck the difference is.

"Real American"s pull their own weight, and never require anything (unemployment benefits, healthcare, temporary food stamps) of the government, even when in times of extreme need. Because "Real American"s can just create a job opening out of thin air even when all of the jobs in their town have disappeared. This is just what "Real American"s do.

"Real American"s don't admit past mistakes or compromise. It's our way or the highway.

"Real American"s aren't gay.

"Real American"s don't give a sh*t about faux sissy science like "global warming". Some hippie liberal treehugger made up that crap.

"Real American"s don't do quasi-Communist jobs like "community organizer".

"Real American"s must serve in the military, or have a visible physical ailment that prevented serving.

"Real American"s don't travel outside of "Real America", unless it's for military duty. And they definitely don't go to Europe or Africa.

"Real American"s don't speak any language other than English.

"Real American"s must root for the Dallas Cowboys. Eff' A Tom Brady, how bout dem' Boys!!!


Sorry folks. As a 37 year old black man, all of these "Real American" requirements are just too much for me to keep up with.

Question: Given the above criteria, are you a "Real American"? Got any "Real American" requirements that I might have missed to add to this list?

* I hope nobody gets the impression that I'm anti-military. I'm not, by any means. I simply dislike how military service is continually heralded by "Real Americans" as the one and only way to show patriotism and love for ones country.